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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Ends Ops in Iraq

American Forces Press Service

The Okinawa-based unit has been in place since mid-October 2004 and was tasked with planning and e, Feb. 10, 2005 – The 2,200-member Marine Expeditionary Unit was responsible for a wide range of missions that included assistance and security for Iraq's first free elections, cordonand-knock operations against the insurgency, civil affairs missions, Iraqi border security, training of Iraqi security forces, security of the Hadithah Dam, as well as other operations needed to further stabilize the area in support of the interim Iraqi government.

Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, the MEU's ground combat element, fought in the battle for Fallujah in November 2004 alongside the Marines and sailors of RCT-7 and MEU Service Support Group 31. MSSG-31, the MEU's combat service support element, provided necessary logistical support during the Fallujah operation.

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 (Reinforced), the MEU's air combat element, accumulated more than 4,300 flight hours, which included more than 2,000 hours flown during night operations. The squadron transported more than 10,000 personnel and lifted more than 835,000 pounds of cargo throughout Anbar province and its AV-8B Harriers supported the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing's aviation missions during the Fallujah battle.

The MEU conducted numerous limited-scale raids and cordon-and-knock operations, capturing more than 150 insurgents and seizing more than 60 weapons caches.

The detachment from the 4th Civil Affairs Group assigned to the MEU conducted numerous civil affairs missions . It conducted more than 250 missions to evaluate and assess infrastructure, engage with the local populace, manage construction projects and identify the medical needs of the Iraqi people. The detachment initiated and managed more than 200 projects focusing on education, heath care, water and sanitation, and roads and bridge construction. The civil affairs Marines and sailors subsequently arranged and coordinated the distribution of more than $2 million worth of donated medical supplies from the Humanitarian Operations Center, Kuwait, to the people of Iraq.

The detachment and other elements of the 31st MEU further assisted the interim Iraqi government and the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq by distributing voter education materials to the Iraqi people of Anbar province and assisted the Iraqi security forces in providing security for nine polling stations.

More than 500 miles of the international border were patrolled and the points of entry between Iraq, Syria and Jordan were monitored in an effort to stop foreign fighters from crossing the border and to reduce smuggling activities.

The unit trained numerous Iraqi security forces including the national police, highway patrol, border police and Iraqi National Guard in their mission to provide Iraq with professional, proficient and competent forces.

Elements of the 31st MEU conducted patrols both on the Euphrates River with Small Craft Company and on the shores to ensure the security of the hydroelectric dam at Hadithah, which provides a large portion of Iraq's electrical needs.

The MEU also patrolled thousands of miles of roadways throughout the province, locating and destroying more than 160 improvised-explosive devices and land mines. The force conducted numerous vehicle checkpoints and provided security at abandoned Iraqi ammunition supply points that kept munitions out of the hands of insurgents, terrorists and foreign fighters.

Throughout their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MEU's Marines and sailors endured small-arms fire, indirect mortar and rocket fire, rocket-propelled grenades, improvised-explosive devices, suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and land mines. The Marines disrupted and repelled countless attacks on their forces, killing numerous insurgents and terrorists in the process.

Marines and Sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit will always remember and honor the 50 warriors of the MEU who were killed in action during the MEU's tour in Iraq. Also, 221 servicemembers of the MEU were wounded in action during this period.

"The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU have carved their names into the history books," said Col. W. Lee Miller, the MEU's commanding officer. "I could not be any prouder to have led them during Operation Iraqi Freedom and in supporting Iraq's first free elections. The continuous cycles of training in the Asia-Pacific region had prepared us for such an operation and the MEU completed its tasks successfully."


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